The Russian (previously Soviet) armed forces were always very strong when it comes to aviation and they always had a thoroughbred fighter bomber in their arsenal. For decades the SU-24M was one of the most powerful airplanes of that kind but the Russians have gone even further and developed the SU-34 Fullback. It is without any doubt the most potent fighter bomber in the world at this point of time.
Ever since mid-1980’s the former Soviet armed forces were looking for a substitute to inherit the SU-24M as a main fighter bomber and since a lot demands could be met by the SU-27 series, they choose it to be the starting point for developing the new aircraft. Due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the entire project took quite a long time to be finished and the first units of the Su-34 were delivered for state testing in the early 2000’s. It officially entered service in 2006 and in 2008 it had its first combat missions in Georgia. It was used to destroy the advanced BukM air defense systems delivered to Georgia by Ukraine and it carried out its task in a very impressive manner. For now the Russian air force has some 50+ of these aircrafts in its arsenal and the fact that it is not available for export says quite enough about its qualities.
On the first glance the SU-34 carries some significant resemblance with the SU-27 family but the nose is distinctively different. Namely, this aircraft has two pilots and they are set up in a bit unconventional side by side style. This gives a plane a completely different nose and it can’t be mistaken for any other aircraft in the world.
It is powered by the same AL-31FM1 turbo fan engines that are integrated in SU-27SM but they provide somewhat less speed with SU-34 as this is a heavier and bigger plane. The frontal canards allow it to remain the super-maneuverability of the SU-27 series despite the increased weight and it can be used as air supremacy fighter in the secondary role.
What makes this plane such a powerful weapon is the arsenal it can carry. Along with the air to air missiles (R-27, R-73, R-77) it can also carry all sorts of guided and unguided bombs and rockets. Also, it can carry anti-radar and anti-ship missiles and that makes it the most versatile fighter bomber in the world.
All in all, with the introduction of this fighter bomber the Russian armed forces have finished the job for the next several decades as there is no similar project being carried out anywhere in the world. The US took the different direction with the development of the JSF and the Chinese have bought the license and the assembly line of the SU-24 so it’s not likely that they will be developing another warplane for the similar tasks.